With the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers are prepared to clash for the season opener, many are curious as to how the game will play out with Tom Wilson following last season’s affair. Gary Bettman took the time to revisit the incident on Thursday.
Bettman appeared on Carton & Roberts WFAN Sports Radio 101.9FM/66AM New York and discussed a number of topics, including gambling and fixing games, the Tampa Bay Lightning and ultimately, the situation involving Washington’s tough guy.
In the May 3 game between the two clubs, a scrum ensued in front of the Capitals net. During this, Wilson engaged in roughing with Pavel Buchnevich, who was down in front of the net. During this, Artemi Panarin jumped on Wilson’s back. After that, Wilson and Panarin got into it, and Wilson sent Panarin to the ice. He threw a few hits before the officials broke it up.
Wilson received a double-minor for roughing and 10-minute misconduct for his actions. Panarin and Buchnevich were also called for roughing. Panarin also left the game with a lower-body injury that held him out the rest of the season. Following the game, Wilson received a $5,000 fine for roughing Buchnevich, the maximum under the NHL CBA.
— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) May 4, 2021
Bettman explained that he stays out of the first part of the decision-making process and ultimately handles appeals. However, he did go on to explain NHL Department of Player Safety head George Parros’ perspective on the situation.
“George felt that it wasn’t worthy of a suspension under the circumstances,” Bettman told the show. “I know reasonable people can differ and maybe the aesthetics, since they were playing in the Garden two nights later, would’ve been better if he was suspended. But George used his best judgment. I have full confidence in George and while not everybody’s going to agree with his decisions, overwhelmingly, he’s focused on keeping the game and the players safe.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Data Shows Tom Wilson Lives in Critics’ Heads Rent-Free
Unsatisfied with the lack of a suspension, the Rangers publicly criticized Parros. New York issued a statement, calling the incident a “horrifying act of violence.” The Rangers were, in turn, fined $250,000 for public comments against the league.
Former Blueshirt Brendan Smtih, who dropped the gloves with Wilson the following game, also recently spoke out about No. 43. He appeared on the Sirius XM show Hockey Today to open up more about the incident.
“To be honest, once my career is over, there’ll be more info that will come to fruition about the whole incident,” Smith said. “All I can say at the moment is that I personally wish the league handled it a little bit differently. I think that we had to take care of our superstars 100 percent and then it wouldn’t have hit the fan like it did.”
Washington and New York, which added Barclay Goodrow, Ryan Reaves and Jarred Tinordi this offseason, face off again on Oct. 13.